Maxine Brown Russell, a country music singer and songwriter who performed as part of a trio with her siblings Jim Ed Brown and Bonnie Brown, died Monday in hospice care in Little Rock. She was 87.
The Browns had several hits in the 1950s and ‘60s, including "The Three Bells" which topped Billboard’s country and Hot 100 pop charts for weeks and sold more than a million copies. The group was also nominated for a Grammy. They joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963 and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
An obituary provided by Smith North Little Rock Funeral Home said:
Maxine was the "cut up" of the globally-renowned trio, and always the life of the party during the group's tours, including jaunts in the U.K and Japan. The Browns joined The Grand Ole Opry in 1963 and appeared on hit television shows of the day, including: The Ed Sullivan Show, The Arthur Murray Show, The Perry Como Show, American Bandstand with Dick Clark and The Jerry Lewis Show.
Maxine Brown’s autobiography Looking Back to See, which was published by University of Arkansas Press in 2005, documented the hardships of working in the music industry. It was around that time that Arkansongs host Stephen Koch met her.
"What made her interesting, at least at the times that I got to know her, was that she really told it like it is, or told it like it was, and her autobiography pulls no punches at all for anyone. And so it was really refreshing to talk to her, to interview her," Koch said. "There was no shame, just here’s what happened, warts and all.
Maxine Brown Russell was the last surviving member of The Browns. Her brother Jim Ed Brown died in 2015 and sister Bonnie Brown died in 2016. A publicist says Russell died of complications from kidney and heart disease.